Carlee Russell investigation bringing attention to human trafficking

WAFF 48's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 7:45 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Carlee Russell’s case in Hoover is bringing attention to a big threat to people of all ages. Human trafficking is the second largest illegal market in the world, bringing in $150 billion in profit across the world. It can also happen in a number of ways.

Bo Williams with the North Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force says victims of human trafficking aren’t trafficked in the most overt ways.

“Typically, if someone is trafficked in Northern Alabama, it’s much more likely to be a family member who is trafficking them, or they’re being trafficked by someone who groomed them on the internet for example,” he said.

It’s what happened to Breighanna Vigor when she was only in middle school.

“I was just 12 years old and it actually stopped whenever I was about to attend high school,” Vigor said. “So three years where I did not say anything, but this individual used me and sold me over the internet. And that was just a time when social media was on the rise.”

Williams says the internet is low-cost and low-risk for predators who could use social media to manipulate impressionable children.

“These children will post pictures of their bedrooms or things like that that have all kinds of clues that a predator can use to relate to them. Favorite sports teams, there’s a Taylor Swift poster, the predator could talk to them about Taylor Swift, things like that,” Williams said.

Vigor says she was groomed over the internet, but now at the age of 21 wants to use her story to help others.

“At the end of the day, if my story can help save the life of just one individual, in my eyes, it was all worth it. I believe that my story is something that kids need to hear. It gives them a different perspective and I’m not an older adult that’s coming to them having this conversation. I’m someone they’re able to relate to,” she said.

Williams says if you suspect any kind of human trafficking to contact law enforcement.

He adds to never put yourself in a situation to disrupt or rescue someone in a situation that could be very dangerous.

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